The choice of challenges

As was entirely predictable, opponents of independence have spent the past couple of days frothing at the mouth. And as was equally predictable, not one of them have proposed any plans of their own for boosting Scotland’s economy within the UK. For a bunch of people who are very keen on telling Nichola Sturgeon that she should use the powers Scotland already has – at least powers that it has until Westminster decides to take them back – none of them have come up with any proposals for a Scotland within the UK which are remotely comparable to the Growth Commission report.

As part of the UK Scotland is shackled by the economic decisions made by Westminster. Scotland has the powers of a band-aid, but is not allowed to treat the underlying disease. A Scotland within the UK can do nothing to protect itself from decisions made by Westminster which are not in Scotland’s interests, all it can do is attempt to mop up some of the mess afterwards. It’s like being told that you should be using your ability to put a poultice on a minor skin rash when you’re being held down and your head is being kicked in by a gang of rabid Brexiteers.

The inability of opponents of independence to develop coherent and comprehensive plans for Scotland to grow its economy irrespective of the political and economic priorities of the British government is a tacit acknowledgement that a British Scotland is Blanche Dubois Scotland, always dependent on the kindness of strangers. Only in Scotland’s case the strangers in question are the British Conservatives, a bunch of people who have never knowingly done anything without first calculating what’s in it for them and how they can profit from it.

There’s much to be happy with in the report. It presents a detailed, cohesive, and convincing plan to grow Scotland’s economy. It is above all realistic, and means that the independence movement can no longer be accused of wishful or magical thinking. That now lies entirely with the British state and its increasingly delusional Brexit. The report means that Scotland has an infinitely more detailed plan about the future of its economy than the UK did before Brexit, and still does even two years after the vote to leave the EU. This report signals that the romantic nostalgic dreamers in Scotland’s constitutional debate are very firmly on the anti-independence side of the equation. Scotland can have the Growth Commission report, or along with the rest of the UK it can pursue economic plans which the EU has already ruled out.

It’s important to remember that this report is a discussion document, it is not a holy writ set in stone. It provides a solid foundation for economic discussions about the best way to develop the Scottish economy. What’s certain is that differences of opinion about the best way to develop the economy of an independent Scotland do not aid the cause of British nationalism, because none of the options under discussion are possibilities for a Scotland that remains under Westminster rule.

It’s perhaps regrettable that the Growth Commission report felt the need to set a definite timetable on the continuing use of the pound by an independent Scotland, instead of stating that Scotland would move to its own currency when it suits Scotland, and that preparations to move towards the new currency would start upon the country achieving independence. That would have gone some way towards ensuring the support of those who believe that a Scottish currency is an essential instrument for developing the economy of an independent Scotland. The currency proposals are the weakest part of the Growth Commission report and have been disappointing to many for their apparent timidity.

But we should recognise that the proposals in the report for the unilateral use of sterling by an independent Scotland for a period of time does achieve one vital goal, and that’s to destroy the British nationalist lie that Scotland needs Westminster’s permission to continue to use the pound. The political importance of that cannot be underestimated. The cry “You won’t be allowed to use the pound” has been silenced. Scotland will use the pound irrespective, and Westminster can’t prevent it.

It is eminently sensible for Scotland to do as this report does and to compare itself to other small developed countries. Scotland possesses resources and assets that most of those other nations can only dream of, Scotland has an embarrassment of natural resources, and a highly educated population. Yet those other small countries consistently out-perform Scotland on a variety of economic indicators. The reason is because of the macro-economic decisions made for Scotland as a part of the UK, decisions which Scotland can do little to influence. Scotland is blighted by inequality and deprivation, by huge differences in wealth and income. Economic studies consistently demonstrate that there is a correlation between reduced inequality and economic growth. Westminster’s policies promote inequality, and Brexit is only going to make that situation even worse.

Above all, the report is a realistic assessment that Scotland as part of the UK faces immenses economic challenges, and that getting out of the mess created for us by successive British governments is in itself going to be a challenge. It is an optimistic assessment of the potential of Scotland’s economy, a potential which is being squashed by a British state with very different priorities. It’s a report that demonstrates how an open and accepting Scotland that welcomes migrants is a Scotland that can thrive. It’s the opposite of the narrow and inward looking xenophobia that lies behind the British Brexit.

There is no status quo any more. Scotland faces a choice of challenges. Brexit brings challenges. Independence brings challenges. We only have a plan to tackle one of those challenges. We only have the power to influence the outcome of one of those challenges. The lesson to take here is that the choice facing Scotland in the coming independence referendum is going to be a choice between the challenge of independence, which is the challenge of rising to the top, or the challenge of remaining a part of Brexit Britain, which is the challenge of struggling not to be submerged. We can swim with independence, or sink as a part of the UK.


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22 comments on “The choice of challenges

  1. Robert Harrison says:

    That line about the cons only do stuff if theres profit in it in my experience applies to the people of England take the whole leave campaign that was xenophobic to foreign nationals as they was pictured as a burden we Scots are also portrayed as a burden to the English and the English for years have swallowed that garbage without question that’s why I never trust or respect anyone living down in England also the way they are they couldn’t keep a promise if they tried if there was anything I hated about them that be it breaking their promises as easy as sneezing

    • Clydebuilt says:

      “NO” voters in Scotland fall for the medias propaganda. You can’t blame folk from South of the border for the same failing. The problem lies with the British ruling elite.

      • Ian W says:

        Agreed CB – we’lived/worked in London/N.E. Essex for a number of years, and most folk were perfectly decent, reasonable people who were somewhat perplexed by their own ‘England=Britain’ ID, amongst other things. We knew a few ‘why don’t you go back to Scotland’ types, but they were in the minority – just as the ‘I hate the English’ are in the minority up here.

      • Robert Harrison says:

        Yet the whole British culture is that way who was defining what was British and not British that wasn’t scotland as for the media who spouted propaganda its hqs are in England the ones here are just branch offices who do as they are telt puppets of England nothing more everything always links back to them in the UK you just have to put the pieces to together as what the britnats love most is everything being about England like it’s the centre of everything and that makes me want to vomit.

  2. Macart says:

    Well said Paul. It’s job done on several fronts. Not least the idea of a Sterling zone which has been supposedly booted oot the park. If they become so bold as to ask why? Scotgov can honestly say to HMG, because you said so. That was your choice, yes? You want no part of a Sterling zone. Okeedokee, we have the ‘option’ of using our own currency anyway (it is still partially ours till otherwise settled), because we can and until such times as either a. we see how our negotiations pan out or b. we decide circumstances or opportunities suggest otherwise.

    In short? We’ll do what we have to do as and when it is required. Mainly because it suits our needs.

    Even as a hypothetical scenario, it makes quite the statement. Worth thinking about.

    It’s a document about a possible scenario for a possible set of circumstances. Its job is to set the ball rolling on discussion and widen a few eyes in the unionist stream. It’s to show people that the SNP, wearing both their hats, are working on the issue of a Scottish economy. Not a UK one, but a Scottish one in the interests of Scotland’s peoples.

    Job done on all counts.

    What it is not, is a policy paper. Something else to ponder. Not only has no other unionist party within Holyrood produced anything like a paper on the way forward for Scotland’s economy within the union (in reality the UKs economy), but does anyone remember a white paper for Brexit? A plan for a way forward for the entire UK and breakdowns by nation and region?

    Me neither. (shrugs) Seems the Scottish government are the only one interested in keeping their population informed, involved and provided with choices. Who knew?

    The true fact of the matter is that all policies and decisions (as always) are subject to circumstances and events and tailored accordingly for same. What the circumstances will be at the time of requirement? Who knows? The government of the day will make the decision based on what is needed. What is possible. What is in the best interests of the population and what is expedient.

    Y’know, like normal countries (grown ups). 🙂

    Now if that idea doesn’t light a fire under them… 😉

  3. […] Wee Ginger Dug The choice of challenges As was entirely predictable, opponents of independence have spent the past couple of […]

  4. Paul Sam, we trundle along, the same old slagging match from the Brit Nats.
    Today Brewer declared that because the UK, and Scotland had nothing like the disasttrou sfall out from the financial Crash as Finland and Ireland we would be better to stay in the Union and ride out the Brexit storm under the protection of the mighty UK.
    There speaks a middle aged man comfortable in his well paid little job for life spouting propaganda for his English Masters.
    260,000 children are living in poverty, 500,000 of our citizens living below the poverty line, 120,000 premature deaths due to Government cutbacks, is considered getting off lightly, according to Brewer.
    Idiot.
    Is he unaware of the disaster that is about to hit Wangland following Brexit?
    Aye, richt.
    Ian MacWhirter concludes that the report should be consigned to a shelf to gather dust.
    This from the man who gave us the Road to the Referendum series.
    Is his job at the Brit Nat Dead Tree Scrolls under threat?
    They are rattled big time.
    The usual too wee too poor too stupid memes won’t work anymore.
    Baillie, Lockhart and Jamieson, the tired old regime.

    • Brian Fleming says:

      I think Brewer is confusing Finland with Iceland. No problems with Finnish banks. And anyway, Iceland’s doing fine now, a helluva lot better than the UK.

      • brian, the man implied that we Scots sailed through the financial crash unscathed because we were part of the mighty UK.
        He is gradually getting worse.

        • Robert Harrison says:

          Even though it was north Sea oil a resource found only here in Scotland that bailed the banks out Iceland let there’s sink and are better off for it the UK so not recovered from that and it was 9 years ago brewer better get his facts right before opinion his gob next time in 2 weeks

          • This man asserted live on TV that we sailer through the Financial Crash because we were sheltered from the storm by the Bountiful English.
            Either he has lost it, or he never had it in the first place.
            Perhaps he should visit my local watering hole of a Saturday night rather than a plush Italian Restaurant in town.
            He is the archetypal bought and paid for Anglo lap dog.

  5. Davy says:

    I thought Gordon Brewer made no head-way against Andrew Wilson on Sunday, the author of the report just calmly answered his questions and even dragged Brewer back to the point on a number of occasions.

    On the other hand Jackie Baillie and the tory prick were grim and predictable, one point I really wondered about, what was Jackie Baillie spouting out about 20 billion being available for this and another 20 billion being available for that ???

    I know Labours magic money tree is awesome ! , but a couple of 20 billion figures ? where from and what for ?

    • Truth be told, there was nothing for Brewer to ‘make headway on’ against Andrew Wilson.

      The Growth Commission Discussion Document is hardly a revolutionary call for the peasants to storm the Winter Palace; it’s a doughty worthy piece of work which will not be consigned to the shelf to gather dust as Ian McWhirter suggests.
      Wilson was excellent and Brewer knew he was on a hiding to nothing.

      The programme followed the now tried and trusted format. Interview the Bad SNP/Green/ Yes Movement, then once they have been escorted from The BBC Stockade, open up a discussion SNP Badding with numpties like Baillie, Lockhart, and a dusty failed old Has Been, Cathy Jamieson spouting meaningless toss with SNP BAD threaded throughout.

      The Report will be a reference document, along with further deverlopmental papers and research in the coming months, to rebuff the reheated 2013 Better Together nonsense which reared its fatuous head this week end. Blair McDougall’s back making a Twit of himself, for example.

      England won’t let you keep the pound.

      £15 billion pound deficit right from Day 1.

      England won’t trade with us because we have left them, and we sell more than 4 times as much stuff to England as the EU.
      The Growth Paper is a mature piece of work. Project Fear is dead and the input from the Yoons today was the death rattle of the Union.

      Dean Lockhart on Sunday politics fell back on the old threat, and demands:- why sacrifice Scotland’s place in the mythical UK ‘Single Market’ in which we do 4 times as much trade with England than the EU?
      He dropped the 4 times as much and resorted to percentages, hoping we wouldn’t notice.

      An abstract from Lockhart’s ‘dusted down’ (q.v. MacWhirter) 2013 threat that England will destroy Scotland as punishment for opting for Self Determination in Europe.

      And Lockhart will gleefully ‘bayonet the wounded’ as a Fifth Columnist within his own country to support Mother England’s re-emergence as a mighty warrior nation; and all that imperial fascist bullying jazz.

      Bailie, whose name is now synonymous with ‘pish’ according to her own Branch Office Team, offered a ‘transformational’ Jeremy Corbyn Government, £20 billion invested in a Scottish Bank, another £20 billion invested in ‘infrastructure and jobs’.
      Jam tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day, or the next day.
      Brewer just let her ramble on.

      This is an abstract of Lockhart’s Better Together nonsense.

      “That’s an analysis based on a hard economic look at what the situation is. As I said the European Union accounts for only 16% of Scotland’s trade. The rest of the UK accounts for 60%.
      So just based on economics alone (who needs a 340 page Growth Analysis when Lockhart nails it in one sentence?) it is essential that we maintain absolute freedom of access within the UK Single Market and that is something the SNP has tried to put barriers in front of as a result of their resistance to the EU Withdrawal Bill.”

      Brewer lets all this crap, this ‘transformational £20 Billion’ Ballie ‘pish’ and Lockhart’s threat that Wangland will only negotiate a Trade Deal with the EU if Scotland is excluded because Lockhart wants to starve me and mine into submission as punishment for demanding Self Determination.

      Brewer could of course have pointed out that Scotland as one of the EU 28 would have exactly the same trade deal with Wangland as the other nations within the EU, a trade deal which Lockhart is confident would include some form of a Single Market…

      In other words, Baillie, Lockhart, and eventually that old dinosauress Jamieson faffed and floundered SNP Badding on cue to Brewer’s prompts.

      It was clear that they hadn’t a baldy notion what was in the Growth Commission Paper.
      Gordon, this was a woeful misuse of my licence money. It neither educated entertained or informed; but then again, I sense that this was the aim.

      • Robert Harrison says:

        See they make everything about England typical britnats screw England this has nothing really to do with them the BBC can get lost if that’s it’s tactics again this is Scotland Scottish business not Englandsure we don’t need them it’s them who need us.

  6. Pentland Firth says:

    Well said, Paul. There isn’t a word in that piece I would disagree with.
    The ball is now very much in the Unionist’s court. What plans do they have to address Scotland’s economic future? At the moment it looks like the Tories will offer only tax cuts for middle and higher earners (at a time when the debate south of the border is moving in favour of tax rises to deal with the NHS crisis in South Britain), while Labour ask us to wait for Corbyn to be installed in Number 10 where he will access the Magic Money Tree (ignoring the fact that Labour are currently three or four points behind the Tories in opinion polling, seem to want the same hard Brexit as the Tory Brexiteers, and there is, of course, no Magic Money Tree).
    The ball is, of course, now also in the “Scottish” media’s court. Will our MSM journalists and editors pursue the Unionists for their plans for Scotland’s future, and subject them to the same scrutiny as they do to anything the SNP offers?

  7. Andy Anderson says:

    Predictably I see that a good few indy supporters are getting their knickers in a twist about currency as stated in the Growth Report. Many want a Scottish pound from day one with no links to the ‘English Pound’ (post UK split).

    The fact is this cannot happen. It takes a good few years to set up a National Bank and even longer to get foreign investor respect about how the new Scottish Government handles the economy. Credibility takes time to earn. Without a period of initial fiscal stability they will simply attack our currency with grim results. The report allows UP TO ten years of using the English pound before we get going with our own. Not a long time when we have waited so long for freedom.

    As an example, Slovakia, when it split with its previous partner the Czech Republic they intended to share currency for a while. However their split took place before the markets had accepted the stability of a free Czechoslovakia and the currency bombed causing economic problems particularly for Slovakia which had a mainly an agricultural economy.

    You never know, Brexit a couple of years down the road may be so bad for the economy that we may be forced to link a currency to the Euro, Dollar or Yen and ditch the English Pound. Who knows!!

    • Macart says:

      ‘Course it would only truly be an ‘English pound’ as and when Scotland receives its deposits from the BoE. At this moment in time it is the UK pound and shared, not from any sense of camaraderie, but from yer akchul hard kesh investment.

      As and when they cough up? Westminster can call it whatever they like (shrugs). Even then it is still an international tradable currency. I believe you’re right though. Day 1 of an independent Scotland this currency will still be the one most likely used for reasons both political and fiscal. The aim (so far as I’m concerned) is to get to the position of a pound Scots at soonest reasonable opportunity. TBH though, currency personally isn’t the top of my to do list.

      Indy first. Secure our right to choose and our resources and revenue streams. Give people the power to make informed choices and then work on and make those choices to suit your needs. The power to choose what we spend comes with that.

      No power. No choice.

      • Andy Anderson says:

        Agreed Sam. Power with freedom first.

      • Andy Anderson says:

        Like you I am aware there is Scots cash in the London vaults.

        • Robert Harrison says:

          We all know that hence why it seems English get our stuff for practically free because what they pay for our stuff goes back to them in tax it’s not right that money’s ours and should be used here with indy that happens think that’s why the britnats keep saying England won’t trade with us but they wont have those revenues they get from us when other nations like China usa japan Europe still trade with us that’s lost revenue for them and extra income for us as it’s not longer going to London once we have independence.

        • Macart says:

          I somehow knew you would Andy. 😀

  8. wm says:

    Currancy is only a word that represents a unit of wealth produced by a Country, it is up to that Country, be it Scotland or anywhere else to call that unit, whatever it wants. The value of the currency depends on the wealth produced by the country, and a wealthy country needs people and natural resources, which Scotland has more than most. The reason for using the Scottish pound in the early stages which I agree with, is that it would be easier on the older generation and a percentage of the population during the transitional period where their pensions and other incomes would appear the same. Then as Scotland’s wealth grew the Scottish pound would be worth 25 bob, so we might call it something else to save rUK any embarrasement. The transitional period could last between five and ten years in my opinion.

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